Thousands of Capetonians descended on Parliament to voice their disapproval at the government’s inability to combat gender-based violence. File photo: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA).
We have, quite rightly, witnessed a massive public outcry against the endless and brutal violence perpetuated against women.

But it seems to me that no one has highlighted what I believe are the main factors which have created a general mindset that women are inferior to men which are the antiquated cultural and religious practices and beliefs that continue to dominate society as a whole.

In African culture, it is a well known fact that the man is the head of the household, his word is final. Cultural practices such as the paying of lobola undoubtedly contribute to the spousal abuse of women. Any man who negotiates and pays a set fee for a woman will, consciously or subconsciously, regard this woman as his property just as he would if he had bought a TV or a car and many men believe they have every right to treat their women as they see fit.

Religions are no better.

In the old testament God decrees that because Eve tempted Adam to eat the forbidden fruit He would ensure that giving birth would be as excruciating as possible for all women.

Paul tells us that woman was made for man, not man for woman. It goes on and on.

Under Islam, women fare no better despite the claims that the lives of women improved under the Prophet Muhammad. And yes they did improve but they merely went from the fire into the frying pan.

Women were still subjected to major discriminations regarding divorce, inheritance, testimony and dress codes. It was only last year women were permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia.

There are no women imams, no woman priests in the Catholic Church and very few priests in any of the other Christian sects.

Unless we change our views regarding these outdated cultural and religious beliefs women will continue to be treated as inferior and sadly many women will regard themselves as inferior because this is what society tells them.

These beliefs are the greatest obstacles to progress and peace in the world today. We cannot continue to try and live our lives based on beliefs that were created in the infancy of humanity.

It is time to embrace the modernity of the 21st century. It is time to move on.

* Gary James, Llandudno.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus